Thursday, 21 February 2008

It's thinking Thursday!!!

This morning, whilst speaking on the sovereignty of God, Mr Tozer gave an interesting illustration for his understanding of 'the sovereignty of God and man's free will'.

"Consider an ocean liner that leaves New York and is bound for Liverpool. On board the liner are scores of passengers. These are not in chains, neither are their activities determined for them by decree. They are completely free to move around as they will. They eat, sleep, play, read & talk together as they please; but all the while the great liner is carrying them steadily onwards to a predetermined port. Both freedom and sovereignty are present here and they do not contradict eachother". So writes the mighty Aiden.

Does this illustration help you? Have you ever thought about this stuff? Does it fit into Jacob Arminius or John Calvin's thinking (for the keenies!)? Personally, I have some concerns but your comments please!


thebluefish said...

Maybe it works. Bit blind watchmaker / deistic though.

If you're dining with the Captain every night, and able to enjoy his conversation and company at all times... then maybe it's a slightly stronger illustration.

Mr Calvin is no doubt wonderful on this sort of issue, I must go feast again on the Institutes. But like a wise man said on my iPod - best to read THE BOOK than to read from John or Aiden.

Sean Green said...

A wise man indeed!!! I guess my concerns surrond the 'detached view point' of a passenger. They know the destination but play no part in the journey. But we know that somehow, God chooses to use us, albeit by His grace & mighty power at work in us. However, I do like the sense of being caught up and carried along in His purposes, under His captaincy & His direction.

It reminds me of the importance of reading and be aware of what I am reading. It is so easy to be lazy and accept all that I read - almost assuming (unwittingly) that my favourite authours are inerrant!

Sean Green said...

Published in behalf of Lesley Holland.

When I read this my first thoughts were of the titanic where there was a dividing of people from the poor to the wealthy, but if you have seen the film you will see that the poor was just as happy and excited as being on that ship as the wealthy were, but then looking at the ships of this age there is no divide most people walk the ships free and can be involved in all activates etc.
From the time of the titanic to the ships of today God did not divide the poor from the rich he loved them all who called on his name, how do we not know that those people enjoying the activities on the ship are not Christians and speaking the gospel while there.

Tri-boy said...

For me, the issue is how does knowing God as Father, Son and Holy Spirit change our understanding of sovereignty of God so that it doesn't look like the sovereignty of all the other worldviews, (whether the fatalism of Islam or the kharmic workings of the eastern religions or even the cause and effect determinism of science).

Isaiah 46:10 is helpful to me:

I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, 'My counsel shall stand, and I will accomplish all my purpose,

Does Christ do the will of his Father because he is sovereignly programmed to do so or because he loves the Father? Answering this question might help us to understand how to view ourselves better and have a view of sovereignty that puts God in his rightful place, without demeaning the emotional/relational/moral nature of human beings.

thebluefish said...

Trinity and Sovereignty have to go together don't they! Our experience of sovereignty is tied up within our relationship with the Father, Son and Spirit - who we know are forever loving one another and glorifying one another as they work out their plan of salvation - an awesome plan that we're caught up in love to be part of. How that helps I'm not sure, but it's great and beautiful to be a part of.

Dave Burt said...

What happens if someone breaks into the control room and reaches for the big wheel... can they change the course of the ship? :S

thebluefish said...

Thus verily we see that all illustrations have their limits!

Sean Green said...

I am still not sure I understand richard's contribution!

pete horne said...

I wondered whether tri-boy was Craig or Richard... and then I read what he said!
Sorry to be a heretic, but I think the illustration's poor. The people got on the ship, knowing where it was going. So, they pre-destined... er, chose... their own destination.

Tri-boy said...

I did warn you that you would get my musings, not my structured out thought... ;-)

Richard Walker said...

All I meant to say was that I don't think we can understand this sovereignty thing for humans without first understanding how it works within the life of the Godhead. Get it wrong there and we will end up extrapolating all kinds of oppressive heresy by the time we apply it on the level of human experience.

Understand how the sovereign will/authority of the Father is exercised in relation to the Son and the Spirit and you then have, in my opinion an "as secure as you can hope for" foundation, for understanding the sovereignty of God as exercised over humans.

Sean Green said...

Pete - are you suggesting people choose God! I hadn't realised you were a fan of Jacob's teaching!

pete horne said...

Nope - just that the great AW had an off day. Do I get burned at the stake, now?

Sean Green said...

burned at the stake - no worse - you get to turned up first and leave last for the next 6 months ....

I don't think Tozer ever had an off day - we are probably misunderstanding his illustration!

Pippa Simkins said...

Where are all the women commenting on this blog! I'm not a feminist I just think you ladies shouldn't be lazy and get your thinking caps on too! (thank you Leslie for taking the lead!)

When it comes to the sovereignty of God i don't think we need to FULLY know/understand pre-destination vs free fully as the whole point with sovereignty is that HE KNOWS and its about HIM and not US!('To whom will you compare me? Or who is my equal? says the HOLY ONE...His understanding no one can fathom' isaiah 40....' 'In the beginning GOD IS' gen 1)...God is bigger than US however God has given us a brain so as Sean quite rightly said we shouldn't just read stuff without thinking (esp when its a man speaking and not God!)

thought 2:
The illustration - man's illustrations can only be limited in their use as they are NOT the word of God therefore cannot be taken literally (as said by Mr thebluefish). As much as i respect this man of GOd i'm sure Tozer had 'off days!'

UP SIDE of the illustration;
- I guess his point is that God directs our paths (sets the boat in the right course)whatever our plans might be in the meantime - 'In his heart a man plans his course but the LORD determines his steps' prov 16.

DOWNSIDE of the illustration.
- I think it is problematic in that it gives the impression that 'it doesn't matter what you do on the boat as long as you end up in the right place!' I would actually go as far as to say this is abusing grace (which in my opinion we can sometimes do in the charasmatic churches). This can lead to a subconscious understanding that if your saved you can do what you like. However if one truly grasps the sovereignty of God you would be very much focused on FEAR OF GOD now (psalm 86:11)...not saying 'lets have a good old party cos we know that when we're 2 miles away from our destination we can think about GOd'. I would say that there is a correlation between what we do on the boat and the direction the boat is taking, which is something i think Tozer is missing here. Sorry as you can see i don't 100% buy into the Calvinist model!!

Ho Hum I rest my case....any more thinking blog entries Sean? I'm enjoying this!!!! pips